Appeals Court of Massachusetts Affirms Denial of Tax Abatement in Real Estate Case

In a very recent decision, Dinno vs. Bd. of Assessors of Sudbury, App. Ct. Mass. (2015), the Appeals Court of Massachusetts had before it an appeal from a decision reached by the Appellate Tax Board, which affirmed the town of Sudbury’s denial of certain abatements regarding property taxes for a two-year period.

The plaintiffs took title to two vacant adjacent lots as trustees, with a quitclaim deed being recorded the day after the transfer of title took place. There was no address provided on the deed. The plaintiffs claimed that they were unaware of taxes that were subsequently owed on the property until they were alerted by the prior owner.

Soon after the time that the plaintiffs became aware of the taxes owing on the real property, they filed an application for abatement with the relevant town authority. The town took no action on the applications for several months, which therefore resulted in an denial of the applications by operation of the law. The plaintiffs then filed appeals, arguing that the town had failed to notify them of the taxes owing for the two particular years at issue.

The plaintiffs claim that the town had acknowledged the tax bills were somehow insufficiently issued, and that it had further agreed to accept late payment of the taxes owing. The board denied the petitions, on the basis that the time for seeking permission for the late filing had long expired by the time of the actual filing.

The Appeals Court was apparently unpersuaded by the plaintiff’s arguments, finding that “Real property owners know, or at least are on constructive notice, that real estate taxes must be paid.” It found further that it is the duty of the property owner to provide the town with the relevant address of the property owner so that the tax bills can be sent to the proper location.

The Court referred to the fact that the tax bills appeared to have been issued in a timely manner, and that the abatement applications that were filed were well beyond the relevant statutory period allowed for the procedure. The town did not waive its ability to deny the petitions by accepting them. In fact, after reviewing the petitions, it determined that the filing of the abatement applications was untimely.

The Court discussed prior case law for the notion that the law does not even require that the property owner receive the notice regarding the property taxes that are owed. It is incumbent on the property owner to ensure that addresses for mail are kept up to date so that notices can be sent to the correct location. Therefore, the decision of the appellate tax board denying the property tax abatement was affirmed.

The experienced Massachusetts real estate attorneys at Pulgini & Norton can help you with all of your real estate legal needs. If you have a question regarding buying, selling, or financing a home, give us a call today at 781-843-2200 or contact our office online, and we can help legally clear the way for you.

More Blog Posts:

Massachusetts Appeals Court Affirms Finding of Abandoned Easement, Massachusetts Real Estate Lawyer Blog, published June 10, 2015

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Rules in Real Estate Contract Breach Case, Massachusetts Real Estate Lawyer Blog, published June 3, 2015

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